12 Stocking-Sized Career Tips for Christmas

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12 Stocking-Sized Career Tips for Christmas

Happy holidays, all!  Hope everybody has some restful, relaxing plans for the season — and given the time of year we’re in, I’m going to follow a tradition I started last December, which is to compile a post featuring all of the tools/sites/resources I intended (but utterly failed) to find time to write about at some point in the previous 12 months.

So here you have it.  A number of great little links I’ve collected over the year that I think many of you out there might find useful and/or interesting in your career exploits, but that I never quite got around to writing a full article about.  Hope you find a few of these links interesting and I look forward to bringing you further articles in 2017!

1. HBR Career Planning Articles: While most people tend to worry about “career management issues” only during the occasional transition periods when they’re not happy at work — and need to find a new job — I think it’s becoming increasingly important for all professionals to keep an eye on the multiple macro-level issues transforming the workplace.  Along those lines, there’s no better single source for tracking innovative, thought-provoking articles on this subject than the career-focused portal of Harvard Business Review, where numerous thought leaders weigh in, each month, and express their perspective on cutting-edge job and career issues.

2. Checkmyreferences.com: While I rarely find that the “bad references” issue is truly the culprit behind the lack of success of a given job candidate, it certainly does happen, and it’s understandable that people might be a bit paranoid about this issue if they’ve been through a termination or layoff.  So if you’re concerned that your references might be throwing you under the bus, and keep having promising job opportunities get derailed at the 11th hour, you might consider investing $40-80 and hiring a service like CheckMyReferences to call your references up and give you a written report on what they’re saying about you.  It’s good peace of mind, if nothing else.

3. Seattle Consulting Firms List: Given how many large companies today rely on contractors/consultants to get things done, I’ve been looking for ages for a comprehensive list of Seattle-area consulting organizations that cater to places like Microsoft, Amazon, and the like.  This list from, while perhaps a bit dated, is the best I’ve been able to find so far — and should be a pretty useful prospecting tool for project managers, product specialists, and others seeking to break into a company via the 1099 route.  If anybody knows a better one out there, please let me know!

4. Apprenti: Created by the Washington Technology Industry Association, this program specializes in training and setting up apprenticeships for future tech industry workers — with an emphasis on chronically underrepresented populations such as women, minorities, and veterans.  I salute these kinds of initiatives, wherever I find them, and suspect this program might be a great springboard for those seeking to break into the technology space with an “unconventional” background of sorts!

5. Enhancv: While traditional resumes haven’t outlived their usefulness quite yet — not by a long stretch — there are times when having a brief, colorful presentation of your strengths can be useful in one’s networking and job search efforts.  This site accesses your LinkedIn profile information and spits out a cool-looking one-page presentation of your core credentials.  Might be worth checking out, just to get another perspective on how you can present yourself on paper.

6. LGBTQ-Owned Companies List: Earlier this year, the Puget Sound Business Journal published their first-ever “top 25” list of local companies owned by a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer majority owner.  While you have to pay to acquire the full list, I’m thinking it could serve as a great resource for those within the LGBTQ community or who are simply seeking to work in an organization likely to have a highly diverse, progressive culture.

7. Consulting Rate Calculator: Each year, I get a number of folks who express interest in starting their own consulting practice or working as an independent contractor, but struggle to determine the right amount to charge per hour.  This online calculator, made available through the MBO Partners consulting portal, is the best one I’ve found for taking all of the pertinent factors into consideration — and determining an appropriate hourly rate for your services.

8. Google Trends: We all know about Google – but you have ever checked out Google’s powerful “Trends” page?  It can be a great way to research the growth/decline of certain careers, training credentials, and industry keywords for help in determining “what’s hot” out there in the market.  Try searching on keywords like storytelling, ambiguity, MBA, and data visualization and you’ll see some examples of what I’m talking about.

9. Seven Lessons About Career Change: While not a Hollywood-quality production by any stretch, this 12-minute video from Professor Herminia Ibarra essentially captures, to me, the unique challenges and psychological hurdles faced by those considering a significant career change — and offers some practical ideas for succeeding.  Definitely worth a view if you’re thinking about “taking the leap” to a new occupational field, yourself!

10. Kununu: No question about it, Glassdoor.com is still the king of the heap when it comes to looking up reviews on companies and researching the reputation of various U.S. employers.  This additional corporate review site, however, is rapidly gaining steam, appears to be more comprehensive in terms of international companies, and has the powerful global parent company Xing backing it — giving it significant reach and credibility.

11. Zenterview: While not cheap, by any stretch, those job seekers seeking to pull out all the stops in approaching interviews at top tech companies (e.g. Microsoft, Amazon, Google) can now hire an actual manager or engineer at these companies to role-play with them and provide coaching on how best to approach the company’s interview process.  While I don’t know anybody who has used this resource, quite yet, it’s an intriguing concept and I’ll be curious to hear from anybody who might pony up the funds to try it.

12. RSA Animate Videos: Given the pace of change in the market today, and all of the fascinating business issues and paradigms society is grappling with, it can be tough to keep up to speed with things — or grasp them without a bit of extra hand-holding and explanation.  This innovative series of videos uses hand-drawn animation to bring presentations from top experts and thought leaders to life — and makes for a very engrossing (at least to me) learning experience.  I’d recommend you browse through the 20-30 videos available on the site, particularly the brilliant one from Dan Pink on the topic of “career motivation” that you’ll find here, if you haven’t yet seen it!

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One Comment

  1. Richard Shay December 18, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks Matt. Merry Christmas to you, too. The RSA Animate Videos are a lot of fun and informative too. Cheers.

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